Is a Music Teaching Career for You?

Teaching is a richly rewarding profession, and music is a powerful medium of expression. If you have musical talent and ability, then teaching music is a logical career choice for you. We spoke to Irma H. Collins from the National Association for Music Education to find out what it takes to pursue a career in music as well as the different career options.

You may want to decide on music teaching as your career if you:

  • Have been attracted to and involved in making music
  • Seek opportunities to become actively involved with music individually and in groups
  • Have been encouraged by family, friends and teachers to pursue the serious study of music
  • Enjoy sharing your musical ability with others in formal and informal settings
  • Genuinely like being with people

If you choose music teaching as a career, discuss your decision with your music teacher and guidance counsellor. Ask them to help you find out:

  • What college or university with an accredited music education degree program interests you the most. (Try to visit at least two)
  • What music scholarships are available to you
  • What options are available within the music education degree programme.

Music teaching career options:

1. Teacher of general music

Working with children from kindergarten through the middle or junior high school as a teacher of general music. If you do so, you may work in a single music room or you may travel from school to school.

2. Teacher of music electives

You may prepare to teach music electives in high schools such as theory, history, and music appreciation.

3. Band director

4. Orchestra director

5. Music supervisor, state supervisor of music and college professor

As you gain experience and add to your academic foundation, you may decide to be a music supervisor in a large or small school system, a state supervisor of music, or a college professor.

Types of certifications:

Often, state certification allows you to teach all music subjects through grade 12. Alternatively, depending on state regulations, you may be asked to choose certification within a speciality. Institutions may prepare students to receive any of three different types of certification: comprehensive, which allows graduates to teach all kindergarten to grade 12 music courses (both vocal and instrumental); instrumental, for teachers of grade 5 to 12 band or orchestra; or vocal, for teachers of kindergarten to grade 12 general music and chorus.

“Obviously, if you have a teaching certificate with your music degree, your opportunities for employment are greatly increased.”

Each college and university has a placement office to help you find a teaching position. As you go out into the field, you may also call on your music education department as well as the department chairperson, your applied music teacher, your ensemble director and music alumni from your school. Added to these resources are the more than 80,000 members of your professional organisation, the National Association for Music Education, an association that will be ready to give you a helping hand throughout your entire career teaching music.

What kind of life awaits you as a teacher of music? Just ask someone who knows best—your music teacher! If you would like to learn more about choosing a career in music, you can visit the NAfME Career Center website for information on a variety of music-based professions.

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